XBox, COD:MW3 and me


In the early 2000s, I had spent more than a little time jail-breaking original XBox gaming consoles to run XBMC, now called Kodi. So, I was quiet engaged, as I was recently listening to the Darknet Diaries episode on the XBox Underground.

As I listened, something leapt out at me. The discussion of hackers getting XBox 360 Dev Kits. From what I remember from my time at DemonWare, these were not supposed to be in the hands of the general public. With a Dev Kit, you can access Microsoft PartnerNet, which is only available to Microsoft and Game Studios.

Now here is where things get a little wild for me personally.

In the Podcast, they specifically mention that the hackers were using the Dev Kits to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on PartnerNet. I joined DemonWare a few months before the MW3 launch.

I remember it being a crazy drive to get all of the new hardware built. We were tasked with building out the infrastructure for multiplayer. It was a lot of long days walking home in a daze to eat, sleep and head back into the office. Sadly, I didn’t get my name in the credits for MW3. I’m still not sure what happened there, but it was fixed in later games. Anyway, I’ve digressed.

While we were building the game’s multiplayer infrastructure, we got the chance to play the beta builds on PartnerNet. This is what blows my mind a little bit. At the time we all assumed it was other developers on the network playing MW3. From the Podcast, it would seem that we, myself included, were likely playing some of these hackers.

Eventually, we got copies of the full game, so we could test against the new infrastructure we built and switched to playing on that. Something I always found fascinating was that as soon as we brought the infrastructure online, people were connecting on all platforms. Perhaps this is part of the answer to my curiosity.

Here is a picture of me playing MW3 at my desk at back when I worked at DemonWare.

Playing MW3 at my desk on launch night

The metadata in the original photo says Mon, 07 November 2011 11:06:34 PM. The launch date for MW3 was November 8, 2011. So, I was killing time here waiting for midnight and the game to go on sale Vancouver time. Pacific timezone (PST) is the last large timezone in the US, so we could breathe a little easier after that. About thirty minutes after the game went on sale, we could see people connecting in the graphs. We assumed it was the amount of time it would take to buy the game and drive home. It was always a kick to watch the graphs and hope things didn’t explode.